Saturday, May 31, 2014

Learn from the U.K.

As this is an election year, I must approach the subject of politics for a brief moment. This post is intended mostly for those Americans who consider themselves conservative, but hopefully those of all sides of the spectrum will be able to grasp something from what I talk about.

In 2010, Conservatism was brought to the forefront of the political spectrum by the Tea Party, a conservative group that said its main priority was to balance the budget and cut spending. However, the Tea Party was not really new; it was just a re-branding of other groups that have lead to the de-intellectualization of the Republican Party.

However, I think that people learned from the Tea Party and saw that it was too extreme, as this election cycle more mainstream Republicans were nominated for governorships and senatorial elections than the Tea Party Republicans.

Here is the main issue: We need to define what conservatism is and who to look to get our party on the right track. When we do, we will be able to grow the Party and win far more elections than we have been winning, because our ideas are better.

The best conservative to ever live was Edmund Burke, an English Philosopher who was very influential on the Founding Fathers. His belief was in limited government and maximum freedom, which is the basis of what conservatism truly is.

The Republican Party has forgotten this. They have taken the idea of limited government to no government and have refused to work with the other side to make this nation stronger, which is neither good for the party or the nation. This has caused our nation to stay at a standstill for too long, and it is time to move forward.

This is not a problem in the U.K. After losing the 2010 elections, the Labour Party did not denounce the Conservative Party as bunch of people who were out to destroy Magna Carta, as the Republican Party has done ever since Obama got elected. Rather, they have been working with the new government on issues they share commonality on. If we did that, we could have solved the immigration issue by now.

And as we are also the party of maximum freedom, we should promote that. This means there are 2 issues that need to be dropped: Making gay marriage a federal, constitutional issue, and the War on Drugs. Believe it or not, there are many gay conservatives out there, but they side with the Democratic Party because they endorse gay marriage. Let's get away from the homophobia and allow people to live how they want as long as they are not bothering anyone else. The War on Drugs is a lost war, lets end it and make a profit on it.

I said earlier that the Republican Party has become anti-intellectual, and I do mean that. How so? Because they use the Bible as a science textbook, and it is not one. During the 2008 presidential debates, all the Republican nominees denied evolution and climate change, which scientists universally agree on. That is unacceptable. We should be a party of facts, not uninformed school children. Unsurprisingly, British Conservatives overwhelmingly believe in evolution and climate change.

Finally, we need to show that we have ideas that will work better than the current ones, rather than just saying how bad the other idea is. Let's take the issue of health care. While we call it "Obamacare"the fact is that it should be called "Dolecare, as it is mostly Senator Bob Dole's health care plan from the 90's. True Obamacare would be a public option or a single-payer plan, which are absent from Obamacare. We need our own health care model, such as the one suggested by Dr. Ben  Carson with individual savings accounts from birth. Yet this idea has not even been presented as an option by Republican leaders.

In order to win elections, we must grow up. We can not be the party of the three "G'S" (God, guns, and gays). We must be more. We must be the party of principles and ideas. To do that, let us look to Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Andrew Sullivan, and Margaret Thatcher, people of principle, ideas, and results.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Time for Change

I will always remember February 10, 2007. It was on that day that then Senator Barack Hussein Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. He campaigned (and really has not stopped campaigning) on change. Whether that change has been good or bad during the first 6 years of his presidency is up for debate. No wait, who are we kidding? Both parties hate him. Obama is the black Bush.

But his message of change has echoed with me over the years. My life has been one of constant change, even though I do not like change personally. In 2009, I changed religions and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2010 I left my hometown and embarked on a mission for the church in Alabama. Then I returned only for a few days before embarking on a new journey in the state of Utah.

The point of change is not change itself; rather it is if the change is for the better. As Rudy Giuliani said during the 2008 presidential campaign "There is good change and bad change." When we need to make a change, lets make it for the better.

When change is needed, it may hurt. It may mean breaking off a friendship, an engagement, a marriage, or perhaps even a religious conviction. But, through it all we need to change so that we can true to ourselves and the principles we value, whatever those values may be,

If you need to make changes in your life, make them. Time is precious, and is promised to no man. It's getting late.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mormonism and Homosexuality

During the past several General Conference's, the idea of homosexuality has come up many times. During the past general conference, the idea was raised at least 4 times, with Neil L. Andersen making it the key point of his message. Several years ago, Boyd K. Packer expressed his view that homosexuality was a choice and that no one was born that way.

Let's be honest: Homosexuality is not a choice. It is a built in desire that people are born with. I don't know why this is so hard for Bro. Packer to believe, but then he does not believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution, where this idea would be explained by mutations and what not.

Now, do not get me wrong. Homosexual acts are a sin, just as fornication, adultery, and other sex sins are. However, these sins are not talked about nearly as much as homosexuality. Which is quite strange, because I doubt that there are many homosexuals in the LDS Church. Most homosexuals I know (I know many) think of the LDS Church as a homophobic organization.

This is not the first time the Church has been seen as a hateful group. Until 1978, the Church believed that blacks were either descendants of Cain and were cursed with black skin or that they were less valiant in the pre-mortal existence (which is interesting, considering we do not know anything about said existence). After they changed that view (or changed it a little, some still believe that), some still objected to the idea of blacks intermarrying with whites, which is dumb because who else would they marry if they joined the church? This still has me scratching my head since the Book of Mormon is very against such stances (2 Nephi 26:33).

At some point, we need to believe in tolerance. No, I am not saying that the church should endorse gay marriage or civil unions. I am saying that we need to be understanding , thoughtful, and loving. We need to accept the fact that this is not a choice, rather it is part of who the person is. They need the ordinances of the gospel and the message of the Restoration just like the rest of the Earth. Let us follow the way of the Master and show an increase of love and not be seen as intolerant and hateful. God loves all, and so should we.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

While watching Family Guy the other day, a cut scene happened with legendary director Steven Spielberg pitching a new movie to a producer. When told what the plot of the movie would be, the producer replied "You're not even trying anymore are you?"

While this made me laugh, it did get me to think about the big picture (no pun intended) of films that have come out recently. Most of them are not new ideas; they are mostly a re-make or a spin-off of a film already made. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fine example of this, coming out 7 years since the last series of Spider-Man released a video.

Well, lets get to the review itself. I am just going to be frank: This film is a disgrace to the Spider-Man genre.

First, I am not even really sure what the plot was. There were so many sub-plots that even major critics themselves said that the film was "about nothing". While some of the sub-plots were interesting, they did not take away from the fact that there was no real one.

Second, I am not sure who the casting director was, but he/she needs to be fired. It is clear that they do not understand who Peter Parker/Spider-Man really is. According to the comics (which i loved as a child), Parker is a nerdy teenager, one no one would think of as a superhero. Who was cast as this person? Andrew Garfield, a man who if you put a suit on him would be on the cover of GQ magazine. Not exactly a nerd, more like a very popular kid who just became more popular. Garfield pales in comparison to Tobey Maguire, who played the role in the previous franchise and brought the Peter Parker of the comics to life.

Emma Stone is not mesmerizing as Gwen Stacy, but she is mesmerizing to look at. Perhaps this is what held the movie together fore me. No wait, that would be the new Harry/ Green Goblin. While not given a whole lot of screen time, he was a great addition to an otherwise boring and dull cast.

Not that the movie was totally worthless. The special effects were very well done and some of the sub-plots were inventive. But who cares what a sub-plot is when there isnt a real plot?

Grade: C

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Donald Sterling

As I am quite sure the entire world knows by now, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made prejudiced remarks against Americans with dark skin that were recorded. These were subsequently leaked to several tabloids, going viral almost instantly. Less than 3 days after the comments were leaked, the now almost universally hated owner was banned from the NBA will possibly be forced to sell his team. It is truly fascinating, but very scary when you think about it.

First of all, why is no one concerned that he was taped? He may have not said such things if he knew what was going to happen, just like many people who make off-color remarks (which we all do). People don't like it that the NSA is spying on them, but they seem to be just fine with being recorded by others. Talk about a double standard.

Second, why is he being forced out of the NBA for making a comment? Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Sterling is not a racist, as none of his comments suggest that he believes that whites are superior to blacks. More likely than not, he does not like "black culture", which many blacks seem to identify with. I find no fault with that, I also hate "black culture", which is not really a culture at all.

Sterling employs a team that is mostly black, employs a black head coach, and was about to be awarded by the NAACP. I am trying to see how he hates black people. If he is a racist, he is not very good at it.

The First Amendment addresses freedom of speech. As an American, Mr. Sterling has constitutional rights. He made a comment; he did not physically or mentally hurt anyone. If we had to go through what he is going through for make one comment, most people in the world would have nothing. We have really got to drop the whole idea of political correctness. It is not correct and it is not helping anyone either.

I do not agree with the comments Mr. Sterling made, but I do understand where he is coming from and he was well within his rights to say what he said. He should not be banned and he should remain the owner of the Clippers. I will always defend a fellow Americans right, even if I disagree with them.